“A hundred billion people who came before us, over ten thousand generations and everything they did for us, to build up our world…if we were to go extinct, through our own actions, or lack of doing anything about it, we would be the worst of those ten thousand generations.”
– Tony Ord from the Ezra Klien podcast
I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts before I go to sleep (after reading comics and books before I go to sleep….it seems like I just don’t want to sleep!). The quote above, right from the very beginning of the podcast, shook me awake.
The podcast goes on to talk about real existential threats to our world and when I say our world, I really only mean the human world. Outside threats such as asteroids are very unlikely to be the cause. Internal threats such as nuclear war and pandemics are the most likely. Humans are the pox on this earth but we can redeem ourselves.
Each morning I receive an email with a quote and a writing prompt and I attempt to put down a few words of thought. The prompts are sometimes too thought-provoking, requiring too much time for me to consider (though consider them I should). This morning I got this:
Don’t go on discussing what a good person should be. Just be one.
You are but one animal among trillions. Let the trivial fall away. Focus on the important.
I was thinking about this yesterday after a collection of different and varying inputs – watching a documentary about prostitutes struggling with drugs and taking care of a pet, watching cat videos, listening to podcasts about human extinction and reading Sufi tales with talking animals.
Why do humans think they are more important than other animals?
We will destroy ourselves. So, focus on the important? Decide what is important.
And, in the face of everything, this is a big question. If nuclear wars and pandemics are the most likely causes of the end of human existence – this feels like it must be important then.
Some will shrug their shoulders and give up, often promoting their view as a good thing. Others will sincerely do their best to encourage action from everyone and anyone. The worst will be those taking advantage of the situation to enrich their own lives.
I’m still thinking about and searching for the answer.